The last time Andrea Raila came to speak at the Niles Library, 60 people showed up. But prior to her appearance last night, the library's phone wouldn't stop ringing.
Judy McNulty of the library just barely managed to seat 120 people, the room's capacity, after many waited in line and McNulty diverted others by telling them Niles Township Assessor Scott Bagnall will be a holding a similar seminar on Sept. 27.
Those who showed up were intensely interested in getting their taxes lowered.
"I just bought a house in December and I want to keep the taxes down," said Marisela Navar, who lives in the Maine Township portion of Niles. "The taxes went up a few hundred dollars from previous years."
Others were concerned about real estate values.
"I noticed in this real estate market downtown that the assessor valued my house much higher than the market value, and based on that, my taxes went up so high," said Rae Hanlon, of North Edgebrook, a Chicago neighborhood which borders Niles.
"It's really not fair. I'm just trying to find out if there's any way I can protest that...Can I get two years of overpayment back?"
One homeowner, Ellen Ross of North Edgebrook, protested the high salaries teachers and government workers are earning and their role in making taxes high.
"I'm upset with the schools especially, and the county and Chicago," she said. "The teachers, the city, everybody gets paid too much and regular people are paying the bill. If I made what the teachers make, I would have no problem."
Erin Hauri of Edison Park, who was there with her husband Nick, wanted to know why the assessor had over-valued their home.
"We're getting taxed on $340,000 and we paid $217,000 for the house a year and a half ago," she said. "I just think that's ridiculous, and we want to figure out how to appeal it."
Beata Zielik, also of North Edgebrook, was trying to figure out if she could file a tax appeal herself or whether she needed to hire an attorney.
"Taxes are going up and up," she said. "Who is using these taxes? Where is the money going?"
Marlene Dewulf, who lives in the Maine Township portion of Niles, knew that the township's tax bills had been due Aug. 1, but that only fired her up. She said she wanted to learn how to appeal for the next time appeals are permitted in the township--which should be sometime in 2013.